Moscow: +7 495 234 4959 Saint Petersburg: +7 812 740 5823 London: +44 (0)20 7337 2600

Vadim Klyuvgant: Save yourselves in organized way! "Ekho Moskvy", 30 July 2018

Some 14-15 years ago I happened to test the reaction of the native business (and not only) community to a consulting product, new for us but well-proven in the countries with advanced law and order and corporate culture. The name of this product was "proactive management of risks in security and asset protection". The risks meant were as criminal, as the ones based on the state power resources, including criminal prosecution. Times then were good and thought to be stable. But the strict order to the government to "stop hysterics!" on the certain occasion had already appeared, as well as the question: "Where are the accusatory sentences?!". Raiding and racketeering were also in demand. And living examples proving that preventive safeguarding from such troubles was worth doing, because it was better and cheaper than suffering from them, also existed. Nevertheless, that consulting product did not become popular then. And it is clear why: few people were ready to open this highly intimate sphere of their life and business to a consultant, pay for its auditing and working out system measures for risk minimization by legal methods. Everyone firmly believed that a "shell" would miss their trench, but if something had gone wrong, they would have solved their problems in a customary way. Nevertheless, those very few who appeared to be wiser than the others, managed to receive help. 

But the time has changed. Some are gone, the others are far away, as the poet put it. It's no longer appropriate to speak about the good and stability. And "shelling" in the form of criminal cases looks more like carpet bombing accompanied by the growing aggressiveness of taxmen, mass bankruptcies with subsidiary responsibility, and other signs of the time. Popular mantras that it is wrong and shouldn't be done can be heard regularly, but they don't have any practical effect. Moreover, the "guru" of journalism boldly says that "the country is ruled by the people bearing in mind the possibility of their own arrest". But still, time and again, one comes across unreadiness of the people to take care about their fate beforehand by turning to a specialist. Visiting a doctor for a check-up once a year or in six months even if nothing hurts has become a custom for many (and that is right), but turning to an advocate in advance is something quite different. Not even in advance. The situation often looks like that: a person who is not at all uneducated and not suffering from starvation has been receiving invitations from an operative officer or an investigator for several years (months, days – it doesn't matter). The person is politely and interestedly questioned about his/her work, concluded contracts, payment and fulfilment of obligations under them. The person gives answers according to his/her comprehension, doesn't turn to an advocate, doesn't analyze professional risks and doesn't prepare a legal position. "What for? I haven't done anything wrong. Moreover, everything is clear. I'll manage myself", – the person lulls him/her-self and the others. Some add: "If they only try to touch me, we'll make such a noise, we'll take people to the street, we'll publish petitions on the Internet". But one day, at the most unsuitable moment they do "touch" the person, and a period of bad luck starts for that person: charge, arrest – imprisonment or, in case of good luck, home arrest. The sum of "damage" is immense, the property is also under arrest. And at the worst moment when nothing is clear and ready, the only person nearby is an advocate, not a personal one, but appointed by the investigator. Appointed does not necessarily mean bad, though anything happens ( the talk about advocates-traitors is a special one, and it is a different matter). But even if an advocate is competent and conscientious, how can he/she understand on the spot what investigators have been doing for years and offer a proper position for defense? And how can an appointed advocate involve a specialist for document examination, go on a business trip, question people? He/she is paid by our super generous state only for participation in legal proceedings, and even this payment is shamefully low, just for show. Thus, an advocate that by chance gets into a situation like this in its hot phase is likely to do conscientiously what is required by professional standard – he/she fulfils a minimal set of obligatory requirements. It is possible to expect more, but it is unreal. "Don't shoot the pianist, he is doing his best". But a lot of "various wrongs" visit the person involved and people close to him/her with the most unimaginable offers and promises of miracles. (Just pay.) And then they disappear as suddenly, as they appear. Good luck, if they don't bring much harm. But the repressive machine does its job without haste and with confidence, crushing the person and mercilessly bringing him/her nearer to the status of a convict, despite meetings, petitions, a storm on the Internet. For all this is good and often really useful, but it is necessary to defend oneself from a certain official charge, no matter how absurd it may be or seem. And for this a well-prepared and reasonable defensive legal position which can't emerge as a result of a meeting or petition, is needed. It can only be spread in this way. 

Is another variant possible? Are there examples of practical benefit from preventive collaboration with an advocate? Definitely yes. The rules of professional ethics don't allow to name people who have made sure of it on their own examples. The whole experience of my own, as well as the other well-known one, allows to assert that the only real way to minimize the possibility of such a risk and gravity of the consequences is this one, having been formulated in the merry old comedy: "Save yourselves in the organized way!" It means: if you, your nearest and dearest, your partners, owners of business where you take part, have become a subject of interest to the people in the uniform, or a tax inspection has occurred, or you feel that something like that may happen, don't wait for anything, go to your trusted advocate and start working with him/her. But it's better to act like this initially, continually, always taking into account criminal-legal risk, for if economy like the whole country is ruled mainly by means of criminal repression, it is clear that this very risk is a dominating one. 

Don't trust neither mavericks, nor 'know-alls' advising not to hurry with the appeal to an advocate, even when they have already come to you. Also don't listen to the fallen into obscurantist insanity officials who allow themselves to point out that participation of an advocate is a sign of a taxpayer's unscrupulousness (for example, as it is in the recent tax circular). Remember: it is easier for them to break you down if you don't have professional advocatory support.  That is why they write and speak in that way. 

You should also remember: you'd better take care of yourself timely and properly. The others may fail to do it...

Vadim Klyuvgant, advocate